Top US officials visit Ankara amid tensions on Syria

Top US officials visit Ankara amid tensions on Syria

The UK has formed part of a US-led coalition carrying out air strikes against IS in Syria.

A top White House aide says USA troops won't leave northeastern Syria until Islamic State militants are defeated and US -allied Kurdish fighters are protected.

Donald Trump's national-security advisor met with Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel yesterday to discuss plans for the region, including a withdrawal from "northeast Syria", as Bolton specified in a joint presser.

Trump, speaking to journalists before departing the White House for Camp David on Sunday, denied there was any walk-back of his December announcement.

According to Erim, if Turkey doesn't see Bolton's requests as feasible, then it will go back to square one, meaning Turkey will conduct a military operation despite U.S. military presence in Syria.

Despite a U.S. pledge to bring American soldiers back home quickly, major disagreements between Turkey and the USA over the alliance with the Kurdish militia will likely slow down the process. Trump's erratic style and habit of undermining his advisers has already driven out the secretaries of state and defense, as well as Bolton's predecessor, H.R. McMaster. U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis resigned shortly afterward. Foreign allies, USA lawmakers, and even Trump's top military and diplomatic officials were stunned and searching for answers.

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President Donald Trump's abrupt decision to announce a US pullout from Syria left many questions open, chiefly whether Kurdish fighters who had been operating in northern Syria alongside USA forces would now be attacked by their long-time enemy, Turkey. Over the past week, Bolton has acknowledged that ISIS is not yet vanquished and still has the capacity for "reviving" itself; United States allies in the region still require our protection; and that the withdrawal is limited to "northeastern Syria".

Bolton's comments over the weekend on an entirely conditions-based withdrawal from Syria seem out of step with Trump's instructions, former State Department official Amanda Sloat said.

"We don't think the Turks ought to undertake military action that's not fully coordinated with and agreed to by the United States", Bolton said Sunday.

He described the pullout as a "cause-and-effect mission", according to The Wall Street Journal, demanding assurances from players in the region, and said the timetable hinges on certain policy decisions being put into effect.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CNBC on Monday that the Syria drawdown is a "change of tactics" but reiterated that it does not alter the US commitment to defeat Islamic State and counter Iran's influence in the region.

Turkey considers the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, a terrorist group linked to an insurgency within its own borders. On Sunday, a spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said it was "irrational" to suggest Turkey targeted Kurds.

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But Ankara insists that Turkey only targets Daesh and the YPG, which it sees as the offshoot of outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Turkey reportedly demands USA air support for any efforts against Daesh in areas along Syria's border with Iraq.

So who's correct here, the Times or the president?

The US did this reluctantly after several attempts at arming anti-IS groups had descended into chaos.

His move has raised fears over clearing the way for a Turkish assault on Kurdish fighters in Syria who fought alongside American troops against IS extremists.

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